Friday, June 10, 2011

Infomation Age 2.0: The Cost of Hard Disk Space Has Decreased by Almost 1.5M Times Since 1980

Here's a website that documents the amazing drop over time in the cost of hard drive storage space, via Craig Newmark who aptly refers to this phenomenon as "one of the economic and technological wonders of our time."

The chart above (available here with detailed price and hard drive data) shows graphically the almost 1,500,000X reduction in the cost of hard disk space over the last thirty years (not adjusted for inflation), from $100,000 per gigabyte in 1980 to only $0.07 by 2009.  At that rate, "hard disk space per unit cost has doubled roughly every 14 months," according to the link above. 

This "technological wonder" of cheaper and cheaper costs of storing information is part of Information Age 2.0, which started with the commercial introduction of the microchip by Intel in 1971.  To put this all in perspective, the first Information Age 1.0 started with the introduction of the printing press in the 15th century, which lowered the cost of reproducing and storing information by about 1,000X.  

In a related CD post in 2007, I wrote about the 33,333X increase in the speed of Intel microprocessors from 108 KHz in 1971 to 3.6 GHz in 2007 (Pentium 4), and that's not adjusting for prices.  I also had a post last year comparing a 1984 Apple Macintosh to a 2009 Apple iMac, which is almost 2,000 times cheaper for processing speed (real $ per CPU) and 162,000 times cheaper for memory (real $ per RAM).  

HT: Lee Coppock

3 Comments:

At 6/10/2011 1:27 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Oh my yes!

My first hard disk was from Seagate and was purchased back in '82 to hook into my C-64...

The sucker was a 'huge' 10 meg monster that size wise would remind you of one of those pizza warmer bags that hold six pizzas...

It was a mere $400 due to it being 2nd hand...

Funny thing but last week I bought three bottom of the line WD terabyte drives for someone's DVR box for $50/each...

 
At 6/10/2011 4:44 PM, Blogger bob wright said...

The ME lab at Michigan Tech had a stand-alone computer used for machine vision in the early 80's that I believe was made by Data General.

It had a hard drive we called a "Winchester" drive - because it had 30meg on each side of the drive [it was a 30/30]. The drive was the size of a large pizza.

 
At 6/11/2011 1:38 AM, Blogger Jason said...

In a related CD post in 2007, I wrote about the 33,333X increase in the speed of Intel microprocessors from 108 KHz in 1971 to 3.6 GHz in 2007 (Pentium 4), and that's not adjusting for prices.

While processor speed is a easy way to compare CPUs, it's probably not the best.

CPU performance does not always directly correlate with CPU speed, particularly with CISC processors like Intel makes. Instructions may take 1 or more clock cycles to complete. Newer CPU designs may reduce the number of clock cycles for a given instruction. The Nehalem Core CPU, for example, is between 15 and 20% faster than the same clock speed Penryn Core CPU.

A better comparison is probably MIPS — Million of Instructions Per Second. Of course, these numbers are probably harder to find.

Now we have multicore CPUs and simultaneous multithreading (which Intel calls HyperThreading) which allows multiple instructions to run simultaneously on the same core. This throws a huge monkey wrench into comparisons with older CPUs.

 

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